Building A Community of Digital Citizens

In my role as a first grade teacher, I often reflect on my lessons and try to make sure that I am using best practices. This week, we were challenged to consider what the school and teacher’s role is in creating digital citizens.

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When I think of digital citizenship, I often visualize the middle years students. They are often the ones that have cellphones in an elementary school, and they are often the ones we hear of making choices that have the dreaded repercussions.

This week has reminded me how important it is for me to consider how my current practices with the littles, can have an impact on how they interact with technology as they grow. Of course, there are many factors that play into this equation, but my technological role as a first grade teacher is possibly more important than I give credit to.

Being part of a new school this year, has been an exciting but challenging endeavor. There is so much more that needs careful consideration, when you are setting routines, building a school culture, and developing the school to be what a staff and community envisions. I am thrilled to be part of all of this! However, combine this with 3 grad courses over two semesters, 2 children 5 years and under, and everything else that comes with this, there isn’t much time left for the “extras”. Don’t get me wrong, I give my ALL, all day, every day…. but I could easily tack on 5 extra hours each day, to make time for creating what I had envisioned before this year started.

The incorporation of digital citizenship is an area that I feel I can always dive deeper into. Through careful reflection, I think that my colleagues and I are guiding our students through the daily practices that we surround ourselves with. But I don’t always feel like I am doing ENOUGH.

When I think about my interactions with technology in my class, it currently involves using SeeSaw to share student learning, Tweeting, using Raz-Kids, the interactive whiteboard, iPads, inquiry based Coding Club, GreenScreens…. hey, wait a second…. maybe I AM doing this??!!!! There is a lot of digital interaction in my class, for a variety of purposes… and these purposes, are definitely growing my students into digital citizens. Maybe what is missing, is the digital teaching with intention. Proactive consideration, that helps me to reflect on how utilizing these practices can help my students to become independent, critical, citizens that are able to interact with the digital world safely and with confidence.

Dani Hackle‘s content catalyst explains the need for students to have the skills to be responsible, safe and literate in the spaces that we are putting them in. This is key. We must give students the necessary coping mechanisms to be successful when they are in the virtual world. We cannot just allow them entry and assume they will be “fine”. After all, we wouldn’t give our kids keys to a vehicle and say “you can learn while you drive”. Would we?

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Luke Braun‘s content catalyst was also very informative. He mentions that teachers should not be afraid to tell students that they don’t know the answer. But rather, he encourages teachers to work alongside students to find out how they can find the answer. Jacque‘s content catalyst furthered this idea by also suggesting that we continuously and critically think about what we are reading, and consuming with our online interactions. We need to ask ourselves what lifestyles, values, and points of views are being represented in the advertisements, videos, and posts that we read online.

Our course readings this week also provided some great food for thought. The Brain Pop video encouraged us to ask the following questions when interacting with social media:

  1. What is the message of this piece of media?
  2. What biases might they hold?
  3. What affect might they hope to have?

By stopping to consider the context that something is coming from, we might better be able to deconstruct and hidden messages that are coming along with it. We have to remember that social media is flooded with sensationalist stories. In order to get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, we might just have to do like Shaun T says and “DIG DEEPER”. As Andrea Quijada states, “when students learn to deconstruct media, they learn a super power”. This is something that I look forward to doing a better job of moving forward, both in my personal life, but also alongside my students when I am leading them in learning.

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So…. now let’s look at being digitally literate from a teacher perspective. Recently, our class was fortunate to have Patrick Maze visit in our zoom room. He took the time to visit with us to remind us of our responsibilities online as teachers. He offered many great pieces of advice. My take aways were this:

  • teachers will always be held to a higher standard online. Be ready for this when you sign up for this job.
  • you cannot separate your personal and professional lives online… educate yourself about what this looks like, how it works, and what it means to you!
  • Always consider the risk versus the reward. Ask yourself if your post is going to change anything long term…. or is it going to get you fired?

Patrick also spoke about how the STF is working to help teachers to educate themselves with the digital world. He shared this document with us, explaining that it was filled with many helpful tips that we can use as teachers in guiding a safe practice in and outside of the school.

This was a heavy week for a lot of deeper thinking about what digital literacy means, how we go about creating it, and what our roles are as educators in a digital world. I hope that everyone else found some great take aways for their personal and professional growth, just like I did!

Thanks for tuning in!

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4 thoughts on “Building A Community of Digital Citizens

  1. A heavy week for deeper thinking is right! I really appreciate you saying how at times you feel like you’re not doing enough… I feel you! Isn’t it great though when you sit back, look at the things you are doing and realize that you are on the right track. Your mention of intentional teaching of digital citizenship is what I think is most important. We need to have conversations, look at examples and talk about the spaces and tools our students are using no matter their grade!

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    1. It’s so true. Teaching is much easier if you are shooting into the dark and just “teaching”… “Intentional” teaching is a different story. It takes planning with purpose, consideration of where you are and where you’d like to be, and reflection, then replanning. These are all valuable, but time does not always permit this from happening! Thanks for your comments.

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  2. Great post!

    What stands out the most is the analogy of giving kids keys to a car and letting them figure it out for themselves. I had a laugh and I think it makes perfect sense to treat our Digital Footprints/tattoos in the same fashion that we treat and protect our Driving Abstract. We need to be guided and educated BEFORE we take to the (information) superhighway so we don’t learn lessons the hard way.

    I agree that this is especially important when it comes to personal/professional online presence.

    I wonder if Professional Drivers have ONE abstract showing their entire record of infractions or if their Abstracts are separated based on professional infractions (think driving a semi for work) and personal infractions (think a speeding ticket on the way to the grocery store).

    Hmmm…

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    1. Very insightful…. this analogy struck home with me again last night, when coincidentally, Carol Todd used it as well. I think it rings very true… but your twist on being able to separate Professional and personal drivers abstracts is also very good food for thought. Thanks for your words of wisdom! Very much enjoyed!

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